I've been restless for these past few days. Once I have an unappropiate thought about a holy figure, and I think it was unintentional (not sure though). But then I kept thinking about it over and over again (I tried to analyse whether it is intentional or not). My questions are:

  1. Is sexual thought about holy figures unforgivable sin?
  2. Am I creating bad karma by thinking about it over and over again?
  3. What advice do you have for me? I keep on feeling really guilty and keep on thinking about it.

Random thoughts (like random sexual thoughts) don't collect much bad karma. Intentional and deliberate thoughts generate karma. Habitual intentional thoughts accumulate karma.

Now, you are feeling remorse because you had those thoughts.

What you should do is acknowledge that those are random thoughts. Acknowledge that you don't have evil intentions.

And now you should disassociate from those thoughts using mindfulness. Just watch those thoughts as they appear but understand that they are not related to you or anything. Just watch and acknowledge it, then let it go.

Watch this video talk on YouTube on the scientific research done in this area.

From a canonical perspective, the Lonaphala Sutta explains that a trifling evil act has significant consequences for an undeveloped person but hardly any effect for a developed person.

Your remorse is part of that unintended significant consequence. But if you learn to let go, then you would have developed your mind to detach from such trifling negative thoughts.


Is sexual thought about holy figures unforgivable sin?

No. But it takes you on a wrong path. A path which you must avoid for your own sake.

Am I creating bad karma by thinking about it over and over again?

Don’t run away. Thoughts can be good , bad and neutral which actually means associated feelings are good bad and neutral ...now when you come across bad feelings ... acknowledge that you are having bad feeling and when you have good feeling acknowledge you are having good feeling (similarly for neutral feelings) Remember no feeling lasts forever therefore wait for it pass away keeping in mind it’s nature. You will not accumulate bad karma as you give up what is not yours. Those feelings are not yours or you or yourself.

  • So sexual thoughts about holy figures isn't unforgivable sin?? I thought it was a great bad karma or something..
    – iyi lau
    Mar 24 '21 at 13:18
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    @iyilau what is sin ? Whose sin is it ? Who decides what is sin ? It is unwholesome and that’s what I said ... it is not good for you but running away from feelings is not the solution .... you should realise all good , bad and neutral feelings will pass away... they are not yours ... what is not not yours should you care about it ? Mar 24 '21 at 13:22
  • You're right, but sometimes I can't help but feel guilty about it.. and sometimes I fear I'll end up in hell or something..
    – iyi lau
    Mar 25 '21 at 4:47
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    @iyilau If you feel guilty then as said repeat to yourself that the feeling is not mine , me or myself .... realise it ... same for the feeling of fear ... why would worry about something which has nothing to do with you ... Mar 25 '21 at 4:59
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    @iyilau Ideally you should leave what is not yours. Even if you have committed murder and you really and honestly leave what is not yours , you will not accrue bad karma... Mar 25 '21 at 5:24

I was diagnosed at the age of 21 with OCD, after spending most of my teenage and young adult years suffering immense pain and shame from unwanted and intrusive thoughts.

The most persistent manifestation of this experience was intrusive and repetitive thoughts about my sexuality. In short, I would constantly think I was gay. In reality, if I was gay, it would’ve been fine, and I would’ve gone about my business; but it wasn’t that at all - it was an all consuming doubt that would never let me be.

All day long my mind would say, “remember when you noticed that guy was handsome?” or “if you weren’t gay, why would you always think about it? Normal straight people don’t think about this so much.

It was insatiable. I would say to myself, “Okay. Fine I’ll be gay” just to stop the suffering. But nothing would silence the persistent unpleasant questions and ruminations.

Now - am I saying this is your issue? Not at all. But I believe the cure I discovered for myself will also serve you.

What I discovered was that the more I engaged with this voice, the more power it had, and the more damaging it would become. I was completely sexually attracted to women and had off and on girlfriends most of my teen years and later. But none of that assuaged my doubt. Nothing I told myself could quell the never ending questioning and suffering.

Until one day, I just started to observe the incessant stream of thoughts without trying to suppress or intervene in any way . I watched the screaming repetitive questions pass by without trying to fix or change them. Then I would say, “Thanks for sharing”.

Over time I discovered that the only thing that was keeping this suffering around was my insistence that “it shouldn’t be” and my trying to fix it. Once I decided to let it be, it let me be.

This a lot of what is at the heart of meditation in Buddhist practice. Particularly in Vipassana or “insight” meditation. You observe - bring awareness to - the experience or sensation exactly as it is without trying to alter the sensation - without trying to fix your thoughts - and you let the sensation or experience be exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.

We find that we are the source of our own suffering in a very tangible way. The more we try and fix ourselves the more broken we become.

Anyway - I know that your experience is different than mine - but try bringing “no change” to your sensations. Try and be with that experience exactly as it is without following the feelings of shame or lust that arise. Notice it and experience it fully without resisting or submitting to the experience, but rather, simply seeing it. Sometimes you don’t even notice when you have “dropped some baggage”, but you definitely walk lighter without it.

  1. Is sexual thought about holy figures unforgivable sin?

They are not on any list of unforgivable bad things. There are 5 major obstacles which block path attainments and lead to hell: Abhithanani; i. matricide, ii. patricide, iii. the murder of arahants (the Consummate Ones), iv. the shedding of the Buddha's blood, v. causing schism in the Sangha, and vi. pernicious false beliefs (niyata micca ditthi).

  1. Am I creating bad karma by thinking about it over and over again?

The theme of the attractive is not wholesome and the object of desire is not so important. The more attention you give it the more it becomes an inclination of the mind and a habit. It is conditioned and therefore it comes up uninvited, it is like a memorized text or a song you've heard coming to mind.

  1. What advice do you have for me? I keep on feeling really guilty and keep on thinking about it.

You are not the only one like this and lust always gets out of control as it finds an opening. Your situation could be a lot worse.

You can study the dhamma more and train according to this text https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/tipitaka/mn/mn.020.soma.html for removal of distracting thoughts.

You could try to develop the perception of unattractiveness to extinguish lust when you have time.

  • I think it somehow already becomes a habit.. because everytime I see somehing sexual I would immediately think of that. Am I creating bad karma everytime I think about that? What should I do?
    – iyi lau
    Mar 26 '21 at 6:36
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    Thinking about sex is bad kamma and it creates bad kamma but it is not as powerful as good kamma of turning the mind away from that. Some things cancel other things out.
    – user8527
    Mar 26 '21 at 7:13
  • You can learn about "guarding of the senses", probably good for you
    – user8527
    Mar 26 '21 at 7:18
  • Don't worry about it too much because worry is not helpful and you are like other people. You are responsible for future development. Nobody can stop this fire for you, only discipline and work. Guilt is not appropriate if it is misdirected, guilt, fear & shame are nornal but one need to learn to "cover things up with leaves" and resolve things quickly to move along undisturbed.
    – user8527
    Mar 26 '21 at 7:30
  • A person might have shame about what is not shameful and not have shame about what is. If people constantly worry and feel guilt about something then they can never move on to make their mind great but if they never have fear & shame then they wouldn't have fear of bad consequences and not be urged to do good to avoid the bad. You have to study Buddhist texts a lot and develop the theme of not self, seems like you are very new.
    – user8527
    Mar 26 '21 at 7:39

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